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Romantic Overtures - Vol. 2
During the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Decca recorded a number of albums with some of its key conductors of Overtures. Many of these were singled out by the press for their terrific sound quality (the fabled ‘Decca Sound’) and for their often adventurous programming. Some of them also included entr’actes and intermezzi. Prized as collectors’ items, many of the original LPs exchange hands at high prices. And most of these reissues, in Decca Eloquence’s ‘Romantic Overtures’ series appear in CD, in part or whole, for the first time.
Romantic Overtures – Volume 2 showcases the artistry of Piero Gamba, who conducted showpieces for Decca and partnered, among others, Ruggiero Ricci as well as Julius Katchen in his magnificent cycle of the Beethoven Concertos. This 2CD set includes his very first recording for Decca, of Rossini Overtures (1955). Five years later recorded another LP of Rossini Overtures, the only common item being William Tell (the stereo recording is truly thrilling, the record as a whole one of Decca’s best kept secrets!). Both recordings are included here (and both recordings of William Tell). The Egmont Overture was originally coupled with Katchen’s recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto; and also included is all of the LP entitled ‘Adventures in Sound’ which included overtures and intermezzi by Verdi, Mascagni, Mancinelli, Martucci and Ponchielli. A real rarity is Stanley Black’s Overture to a Costume Comedy, recorded at the 1957 ‘Adventures in Sound’ sessions, but only included on a 45rpm EP in mono. This is its first release on CD and in stereo.
“The LSO supports Gamba brilliantly … a natural sound, clear and with a well-defined bass” Gramophone Magazine (Rossini: 1955)
“Performances throughout are good … well recorded” Gramophone Magazine (Adventures in Sound)
“La gazza ladra: the battery guaranteed to batter one through the back of one’s chair … The allegros are very fast indeed [and] one is open-mouthed to find that the LSO wind players still manage to phrase with their natural artistry and the violins at the opening of the allegro in Semiramide have all their repeated notes exactly together … Gamba’s Rossini crescendos are all superbly controlled, and with the vivid stereo recording I cannot imagine anyone failing to find this disc very exciting.” Gramophone Magazine (Rossini: 1960)
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and adaptations of works by Ravel, Borodin, Luigini and Schumann
This collection has been prepared with three main aims: firstly to prove that the so-called boundaries between light and classical music are not as insurmountable as some people seem to imagine; secondly to illustrate that many composers, who may usually be associated with more serious works, also had their lighter moments; and thirdly to offer several examples of the tasteful way in which arrangers of the 20th century adapted the classics to make them more instantly appealing to their audience. For many years such ‘tampering with the classics’ was banned by the BBC in Britain, although commercial recordings could be freely purchased. However a lack of broadcasts obviously affected sales, which partly explains why such recordings were more common in the United States than in Britain. Among the leading US musicians who often strayed into classical territory were David Carroll, Andre Kostelanetz, Percy Faith, Clebanoff and even Ray Conniff. They are joined by Charles Williams, Angela Morley and other familiar figures on the UK scene.
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